- If you’re looking for a sneaky, under-the-radar QB to play this week, don’t ignore Miami’s Chad Henne. The Dolphins will square off against an injury-depleted Bengals defense. The Bengals placed cornerback Pac-Man Jones on IR early this week and they’ve been practicing without five other members of their secondary who are nicked up with a variety of injuries. This includes top cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle). Henne has been a consistent performer for the last four games. Look for him to put up another 250-300 yards passing with multiple touchdowns.
- The Saints defense has allowed the second fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. Play Ben Roethlisberger anyway. New Orleans has some deceptive numbers. They’ve faced below-average passing offenses in six of their seven games this season. The only team the Saints played with a top-shelf QB is Atlanta. Matt Ryan ended that contest with a respectable 228 yards and two touchdowns. Plus the Saints have some injuries in their secondary right now. Big Ben has been huge since returning from suspension, posting a 5:1 TD:INT ratio in two starts. And don’t let the fact that this is a road game concern you. Roethlisberger has recorded multi-TD stat lines in five of his last six games away from Heinz Field.
- The Panthers have yielded the sixth fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. In recent weeks, the Carolina defense has held up well against the likes of Carson Palmer and Drew Brees. It’s a good idea to find an alternative to Rams QB Sam Bradford. Bradford is a viable situational starter but this is a situation to avoid. It’s also worth noting that Bradford has experienced a noticeable dip in his production since favorite target Mark Clayton went down with an injury. He has averaged just 180 yards and one touchdown per game in his last three starts.
- Fantasy owners who lost Tony Romo in Week 7 probably won’t be able to replace him solely with Jon Kitna. However, a platoon approach with Kitna and another decent QB could work. Kitna has the benefit of working in an offense pimped out with abundant offensive bling. He draws about the most favorable matchup possible this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville has ceded multiple passing touchdowns in six straight games. Start Kitna and look for a solid contribution.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chad Henne, Jon Kitna, Matt Cassel and Matthew Stafford
- I’m seeing a lot of fantasy owners and experts overreacting to Miami’s recent rushing woes. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown have been terrible of late but before you give them a permanent spot on your bench understand what they’ve been up against. In the last five games, the Dolphins have faced the Steelers, Packers, Patriots, Jets and Vikings. All five have elite run defenses. With six teams on bye this week, don’t be afraid to dust off Williams and Brown against the Bengals. After not allowing a rushing touchdown in their first two games this season, Cincinnati’s defense has given up six RB scores in their last four outings. Both Miami RBs are playable as second RBs or flex options. I like Williams a bit more.
- It’s tough to trust Chargers RB Ryan Mathews at this point. Matthews remains the top option in San Diego’s backfield but he’s losing goal-line work to Mike Tolbert and receptions to Darren Sproles. With a matchup this week against a stingy Titans run defense, it’s a good idea to consider alternatives. Mathews will likely have a difficult time getting things moving in the right direction since Tennessee allows just 74.5 rushing yards per game. Sproles may actually be the best option this week (especially in PPR leagues). He’s getting plenty of looks due to the rash of injuries within San Diego’s WR corps. Plus the Titans are giving up six receptions per game to opposing RBs.
- Get Detroit’s Jahvid Best back in your lineup this week against Washington. Best’s injured toe is reportedly feeling much better after the bye week hiatus. He’s a guy whose fantasy value is largely derived from receptions out of the backfield. The good news is the Redskins defense has given up seven or more receptions to RBs in three of their last four games. Taking into account the full season, they’ve allowed 51.7 receiving yards per game to RBs, second most in the NFL. Look for Best to make 7-8 receptions and do enough on the ground to contribute useful fantasy stats.
- From a RB perspective, the Chiefs are this year’s Panthers. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are both playable week to week much like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were at times throughout 2009. Charles and Jones each rank inside the top 25 fantasy RBs. This week, KC’s smash-and-dash tandem faces their easiest test yet when the Chiefs play host to the Bills. Buffalo has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs and they rank dead last in the NFL in terms of rushing yardage allowed. If you own both Charles and Jones, go ahead and start both.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ricky Williams, Darren Sproles, Beanie Wells, Derrick Ward and LeGarrette Blount
- No player has seen his fantasy outlook improve more than Pierre Garcon over the last two weeks. With the injuries to Dallas Clark and Austin Collie, Garcon went from the fourth option in the Colts passing attack to the second option in the blink of an eye. A cushy matchup against the Texans on Monday night will push Garcon’s stock even higher. Consider him a must start. Houston ranks dead last in practically every key passing category (yards allowed, touchdowns allowed and fantasy points allowed to WRs). Pencil in Garcon for 100 yards and a touchdown.
- The loss of Tony Romo at QB looks ominous for Roy Williams. Williams received just three looks in Monday’s loss to the Giants. Meanwhile, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were each targeted seven or more times. With the Cowboys falling out of the playoff picture, don’t be surprised to see them take a longer look at Bryant in the weeks ahead. Increased playing time for Bryant would come at Williams’ expense. Despite a favorable matchup against the Jaguars, keep Williams on your bench until he shows better rapport with Jon Kitna.
- Avoid the 49ers passing attack this week with Troy Smith scheduled to the start at QB. Michael Crabtree in particular could be in for a tough outing. He’ll likely draw coverage from Champ Bailey for much of the afternoon. Bailey has already negated top WRs like Anquan Boldin and Reggie Wayne this season. The Broncos pass defense has allowed just one WR score in their last three games.
- Don’t be surprised if the Cardinals defense experiences a little déjà vu this week. After getting abused by Seattle’s Mike Williams last Sunday, they figure to suffer the same fate against Tampa’s Mike Williams this Sunday. Opposing #1 WRs have feasted on the Cardinals this season. Some of the numbers put up by top wideouts against Arizona include Mark Clayton (10-119-0), Roddy White (7-78-1), Louis Murphy (5-119-0), Marques Colston (7-97-0) and the aforementioned Williams (11-87-1). Look for Tampa’s rookie to put up at least 90 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: James Jones, Steve Johnson, Santonio Holmes, Anthony Gonzalez and
- Prior to Houston’s bye last week, TE Owen Daniels turned in his best performance of the season, posting five receptions for 79 yards against the Chiefs. Despite the breakout game, Daniels is a marginal play against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed the fewest fantasy points to TEs this season. Only one TE has scored a touchdown against them and no TE has exceeded 50 yards. Moreover, Daniels has a poor track record against the Colts; he hasn’t scored or put up more than 56 yards against them in his last five meetings.
- Lower your expectations for Washington TE Chris Cooley. At first glance it looks like a favorable matchup against the perennially poor Lions. While it’s true that Detroit frequently gets toasted by WRs, the Lions hold their own against TEs. In fact, no TE this season has put up over 40 yards on them.
- Colts TE Dallas Clark scored or put up 100 yards in three straight games against the Texans. Clark is out for the year but his success against Houston bodes well for his replacement, Jacob Tamme. If you’re desperate for a TE, bet on Tamme. Houston has allowed the second most fantasy points to TEs this season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jacob Tamme, Tony Moeaki and Brandon Pettigrew
- Lions kicker Jason Hanson is coming off a bye so it’s easy to forget about his run of outstanding production. The Six-Pack will remind you that the long-time Detroit kicker has averaged 12 points per game over his last three outings. And that’s not factoring any distance bonuses. Over that three-game stretch, Hanson connected on three field goals of 50 yards or longer. He’s a good option this week against a Redskins outfit that had allowed five straight kickers to boot multiple field goals before they shut down Chicago’s Robbie Gould last week.
- Buffalo has the worst defense in the NFL, allowing 33.0 points per game. Kansas City has a top 10 scoring offense. You don’t need to consult the Magic 8-Ball to predict a strong showing from the Chiefs. Look for KC to advance the ball down the field with ease on Sunday. Kicker Ryan Succop should have himself a nice afternoon with at least eight points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Hanson, Ryan Succop and David Buehler
Team Defense / Special Teams
- The Green Bay Packers have a top 10 DST this season with 22 sacks and 12 turnovers. Despite their success so far, fantasy owners need to lower their expectations this week or find an alternative. The Packers will face a fundamentally sound Jets team. QB Mark Sanchez has thrown just two interceptions and taken a mere nine sacks this season. It’s not surprising New York has allowed the fewest fantasy defense and special teams points.
- Bank on another big effort from the Tennessee Titans this week against the Chargers. The Titans lead the NFL with 12 interceptions and they’re tied for the lead with 25 sacks. Look for them to harass QB Phillip Rivers, who remains shorthanded with a couple of his top receivers injured. Rivers has been sacked 20 times this season, second most in the NFL.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins
This Week's Six-Pack: Singha
Brewed by: Pathumthani Brewery, Pathumthani, Thailand
Appearance: Singha is offered up in a standard brown longneck with a gold foil label adorned with an armored lion. This beer has some crazy carbonation. An aggressive pour produced an absolute rush of bubbles. It settled into a deep soapy head and stuck around for several minutes. And not to harp on the carbonation, but the bubbles that clung to the side of the glass were perhaps the largest I’ve ever seen in a beer. The color was yellow . . . not golden or straw colored, but yellow.
Smell: In the bottle it smelled sweet and malty with hints of bread dough. Once I poured it into the glass, I couldn’t pick up hardly any aromas at all.
Taste: Singha is distinctly sweet. The big malt sweetness up front gives way to some grain flavors, almost resembling light grainy crackers. The aftertaste was relatively clean and crisp with some slight herbal tones. Surprisingly flavorful. Surprisingly good.
Drinkability: This is a highly drinkable beer that is quite refreshing. The sweetness of the beer isn’t too much. It’s simple, clean and will hold its own against any spicy Thai food.
Last Call: I’ve reviewed 3-4 other Asain lagers and all rated poorly. This one is the best of the lot. It’s not my favorite beer but I’d grab a six-pack if I grab some takeout or belly up for some Pad Thai. Three stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Fischer’s Tradition Amber (France)